A Strong Detachment

21 Apr

Last year at Easter dinner–which is also known as Ham Day in my circle of friends–we were talking about September 11. It turned out that one of my friends was in Spain during the attacks, which was interesting to me. Being so far away, did September 11 have the same impact on her that it did on those of us who were in the country during that time? Not really, she said. She felt a little detached from all of that.

I wondered what it would be like to have that sense of detachment around a major event. Oh, I’ve lived out of the country before and have experienced that odd sensation you get when you missed out on community-wide experiences, but I hadn’t missed something that momentous.

Just a couple of weeks after that conversation, I was in Australia, and the Boston Marathon bombing happened. I forced my roommate to watch CNN ad nauseum and read the coverage in the local papers left in the hotel lobby. A few days later, the Boy was on lockdown while police tracked down the bombers. I was in Melbourne on a commuter train when my buddy got a CNN alert about the capture. It was all surreal.

The past year for me has been a mixture of feelings–I’m sad that the events happened, of course, but I don’t have that same connection to the disruption and the shift in thinking that everyone else experienced. I feel pride in the way the police handled the shoot-out, but I don’t have the same gratitude that others do. I recently saw video of the shoot-out and was shocked that that happened not that far away from where I live. And I also feel some guilt–not because I wasn’t here, but because I don’t have the same amount of patience for all of the stories–I’m not sure there’s been a day in last year where there wasn’t a Marathon bombing-related story in the Boston media, and the last week has been wall-to-wall coverage that’s been understandable, but exceptionally trying–and for all of the effects this has had on people.

While I write this, I’ve got the Marathon television coverage on. I thought about going to the course to watch some of it, but I can’t spare the time today. I also don’t know if I could handle it. I usually get a little emotional watching regular people run marathons because I’m seeing people achieve a really hard goal and it chokes me up a little. Adding the weight that this year’s marathon has may have been too much for me to balance.

Time will help though, and I hope that next year the events of 2013 will be further enough away to better enjoy the race for what it is.

3 Responses to “A Strong Detachment”

  1. DavID November 10, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    “I wondered what it would be like to have that sense of detachment around a major event.” ( … that happened where you live.)

    In Melbourne, September 11 2001 got hundreds of times the media coverage of the occupy-style confrontation near Melbourne’s World Trade Centre on September 11, 2000 or the planes attacking a huge building in Chile on September 11th 1973. (The latter was start of a coup which saw ~800 people tortured in a sports stadium and eventually a similar number of dissapeared presumed dead to 9/11.) I hoped that in 2013 the many kids searching Wikipedia for Sept 11 might have learned for the first time of the 1973 event, unfortunately rather than a disambiguation page Wikipedia decided to give searchers what they came to see without even a “hat” about the bombing, which many at the time claimed seemed to be directed by “Americans” in dark suits & glasses using walkie-talkies.

    If I had a chance to ask a question at the presidential debates it would be for “both” candidates and something like … “If you become President, will you investigate if any US intelligence agencies assisted in the events of September 11th, and if they were will you tell the world?” It might be difficult to trap Hillary but I think Donald would probably commit to revealing such involvement, assuming I was referring to 2001. Then if they declined to do that about 1973, they could be asked why the deaths of ~3000 Chilean residents 43 years ago apparently don’t deserve that investigation. If that had happened in the televised debates, maybe 100 million+ Americans might consider that question for the first time.

    Jill & many readers may be too young to remember 1973, but what about 1989? 800,000, perhaps 1 million Rwandans were killed by machetes and similar implements, at a rate that makes the Soviets & NAZIs look like dabblers. That was a media sensation for a short time, but it still got only a tiny fraction of the coverage that 9/11 did. Don’t most of us feel detached from that pogrom, if we even recall it?


    • Jill November 11, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

      I don’t remember 1973, unfortunately. Perhaps it’s the seemingly never-ending list of atrocities that continue to happen, which is why it’s difficult for the majority of us to remember them. I live in an area where there’s a large Armenian population, so I am reminded of that one fairly regularly, even though I didn’t really know about it before I lived here (Ma J might be shocked to hear that, but it’s amazing what we’re all willing to stop talking about).

      Detachment is certainly an issue–and that’s probably why genocide easily continues to happen.


      • DavID November 13, 2016 at 12:37 am #

        Apparently Hitler cited how few remembered the Turkish slaughter of Armenians.

        I’m probably indirectly named after the King of the 12 tribes. They had a saying “… Saul has his thousands, but David has his tens of thousands. ”

        I regard those who rightly condemn Hitler but excuse or exalt Stalin, Mao, Joshua or David as appalling hypocrites! Our countries, perhaps most countries, have lots of blood on their hands too!


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